Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has issued his fiercest condemnation of President Donald Trump to date, branding the outgoing U.S. commander-in-chief “crazy” and suggesting his fate will be similar to former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006 after the U.S. invasion.
As Trump prepares to leave the White House, Iranian officials are celebrating what they see as their victory over his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, designed to cripple Iran’s economy and isolate it internationally.
Trump and his team failed to force Tehran back to the negotiating table to make a new nuclear deal, having abandoned the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2017.
Sanctions, assassinations and military posturing have taken a serious toll on Tehran, but the regime there looks to have outlasted the Trump administration with just weeks of the president’s term remaining.
Rouhani said Wednesday that Trump will go down in history alongside Hussein, with whom Iran’s revolutionary theocratic regime waged a bloody war for much of the 1980s. The U.S. backed Hussein in the warâ€”though largely wanted both sides to failâ€”which ultimately claimed some 600,000 lives.
“The fate of U.S. President Donald Trump will not be better than Saddam Hussein,” Rouhani said according to the state-run Fars News Agency.
“We had two crazy creatures in history who imposed war on the people. One was Saddam and the other was Trump,” he continued. “Saddam imposed military war and Trump imposed economic war on us.”
“We were united during the war and defeated Saddam,” the president continued. “We also witnessed the day when that madman was executed.” Turning to Trump, Rouhani said: “We did not let this economic war reach its goal.”
Hussein was captured by American troops in 2003, several months after U.S. and allied forces invaded Iraq and deposed his government. He was put on trial by the Iraqi Interim Government and, in November 2006, convicted of crimes against humanity relating to a 1982 massacre of Iraqi Shi’ites.
He was executed by hanging on December 30, 2006, as the country sank into bloody civil war under the disastrous American occupation.
Iranian leaders are hoping that President-elect Joe Biden will offer sanctions relief as part of his push to revive the JCPOA and re-engage with Tehran. Such relief is much needed, with Iran’s anemic economy struggling to carry the nation through the coronavirus pandemic and financial crisis.
Still, regime figures have maintained a steady drumbeat of obstinate rhetoric, even as sanctions bite. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said this month that Iran should neutralize the sanctions rather than seek to have them lifted. Rouhani said Wednesday: “We must nullify the sanctions.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently lauded the impact of the “extraordinarily effective” American sanctions. Pompeo, one of Trump’s Iran hawks, said last month that the measures had created “a currency crisis, mounting public debt, and rising inflation.”
Vital and lucrative Iranian oil exports have been cut by some 75 percent denying the regime more than $70 billion in oil, Pompeo said, while the Iranian rial “has depreciated to one fifth of its former value against the dollar since the start of the campaign.”
National GDP he said, “has shrunk by around 6 percent for three consecutive years,” while sanctions “deprive the regime of funds it would use to carry out its malign activities.”